ISO 9001:2015 Certified      |      ISO 13485 Certified in QMS for Medical Devices      |      AS9100D Certified in QMS for Aerospace and General Engineering Applications.

Types Of Cable Damage and Their Causes Of Failure

by | Feb 14, 2024

Cables are crucial for modern technology, transmitting data, power, and signals across various industries. Cable damage and failure can cause data loss, service disruptions, safety hazards, and financial losses. Recognizing factors that compromise cables, such as mechanical stress, environmental conditions, or electrical anomalies, leads to prompt problem-solving and optimal performance of intricate systems.

Types Of Cable Damage And Factors Causing Cable Failure

1. Mechanical damage

Mechanical abrasion is a major threat to a cable’s shield integrity across various applications, encompassing numerous elements that can compromise the structure and functionality of a cable.

Pinching and compression

Cables can be damaged by pinching, constant bending, conductor strand breakage, compression, improper routing, or careless handling in industrial settings. This can result in deformations, insulation failure, breaches, or conductor breakage.

Abrasion and friction

Constant bending stress and friction from cable rubbing can damage its insulation, leading to short circuits or signal loss. This is common in industries using machinery or robotics with moving parts.

Bending beyond specifications

Cables have bending limits set by manufacturers. Exceeding these limits can weaken or break internal components, causing cable failure. Improper bending can cause cable fatigue and malfunction in applications that require frequent movement.

With the assistance from expert Custom Cable Manufacturers, proper cable management can be achieved for better cable reliability and lifespan.

2. Electrical factors

Electrical factors can cause disruptions, data loss, failure, and equipment damage to cable systems, affecting their functionality and integrity.

Electrical overloading or excessive current

Exceeding a cable’s designed full current flow and capacity can result in electrical overloading, excessive heating, insulation breakdown, open short circuits, and conductor damage. This can cause failure and potentially damage connected equipment, compromising safety.

Voltage surges and transients

Voltage surges can damage cables and disrupt signal performance. Lightning strikes, power, and high voltage fluctuations, and switching devices can all cause these surges.

Radiofrequency interference (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI)

EMI and RFI disrupt cable signals, causing data corruption.Unshielded cables are vulnerable to interference from surrounding equipment, leading to signal loss and compromised data transmission.

To prevent electrical hazards, use proper outer jacket, surge protection, voltage regulation, load specs, the right cable make, and cable types for each application. These ensure cables can handle electrical stress and function reliably.

3. Environmental factors

Environmental conditions are crucial for cable longevity and performance. Various elements in the surroundings can lead to cable failure, system deterioration, and premature cable failure.

Moisture and water infiltration

Moisture damages cables, leading to corrosion, short circuits, and breakdowns. Protect cables from moisture for longevity and optimal performance.

Extreme temperatures

Extreme temperatures can damage cables. High temperatures can make the cable core melt the insulation while freezing and low temperatures can cause insulation damage, make cables brittle, and cause signal loss and cable core failure.

To protect cables, carefully install them, choose the right cables for the environment, and use protective measures like conduit, shielding, and UV-resistant materials.

Good cable management assistance from Cable assemblies in Chennai helps keep cables working and prevents early cable failure from environmental stress.

Types of cable damage

4. Connector issues

Connector issues affect cable system performance and reliability. Addressing them is crucial for both cable structure and optimal signal transmission.

Poor Connector Installation

Proper connector installation is crucial for signal integrity. Incorrect or improper installation can cause loose connections, signal loss, and increased resistance.

Mismatched Connectors and Impedance

Mismatched connectors with differing impedance characteristics can cause signal disruptions. Proper matching of power cables and connectors is crucial to minimize these disruptions. High-quality connectors and proper maintenance are essential to avoid signal issues and downtime.

5. Improper handling and installation

Ensuring proper cable handling and installation of cable components is crucial for optimal cable performance and longevity, as neglecting these aspects can lead to issues that compromise signal transmission, service life, and system integrity.

Cable kinking and twisting

Constant bending stress of cables beyond their recommended bend radius can damage their internal components, leading to signal loss, impedance mismatches, and even cable breakage over time.

Incorrect cable routing

Route cables properly to avoid stress, abrasion, and damage from objects or moving parts. Avoid sharp edges and areas of mechanical stress to prevent insulation damage and breaches and reduce cable lifespan.

Inadequate cable support

Unsupported cables can sag or be under tension, damaging the cable structure and connectors. It can also make them vulnerable to mechanical stress, resulting in the failure, degradation, and premature failure of cable structures.

Follow manufacturer guidelines for cable handling and use proper cable management solutions for support, protection, and routing to ensure reliable signal quality.

6. Rodent and Pest Damage

Cables can be damaged by rodents and pests, leading to disruptions and safety hazards.

Rodent chewing and nibbling

Rodents like mice and rats often gnaw on cables, causing damage that can lead to a short circuit, circuits of circuits, signal loss, and fires, putting safety at risk.

Pest infestations

Pests building nests or webs around cables can increase moisture retention, corrosion, electrical fire risk, and mechanical stress, leading to physical damage to cable structures. Protect cables from rodents and pests by using protective coverings, conduits, and sealants to create barriers.

7. Chemical and corrosion damage

Cables can be damaged by chemicals and corrosive elements, compromising their integrity and signal transmission.

Exposure to harsh chemicals and solvents

Cables in industrial or lab settings can be exposed to harsh chemicals that erode insulation, weaken copper conductors themselves, and degrade protective outer jackets, causing loss of insulation and deterioration of open circuits over time.

Corrosion due to atmospheric elements

Salt, moisture, and pollutants in ambient conditions can corrode cable connectors. Salty air in coastal or industrial areas can also worsen the problem, causing material degradation and poor signal quality.

Choose cables made of resistant materials to prevent chemical and corrosion damage and oxidation. The use of corrosion-resistant materials is important in humid or outdoor environments.

8. Material aging

Cables are subject to wear and failure due material fatigue due to material fatigue, degradation, and repetitive movement.

Material degradation over time

As cables age, their materials deteriorate. This can cause insulation to crack, shielding to weaken, and copper conductors themselves to develop resistance.

Stress due to frequent movement

Flexible cables and copper conductors can weaken due to material fatigue due to frequent bending and movement, particularly in robotic and industrial automation.

Regular cable inspection, maintenance, and replacement may be necessary to address age and wear concerns. Use electric cables designed by Cable assemblies and electrical contract manufacturing companies in Chennai for dynamic applications and implement cable strain relief to extend lifespan and maintain performance.


Cables are vital for data transmission and connectivity. However, they face vulnerabilities such as mechanical stress and environmental factors that cause damage and degradation. Proactive measures like regular maintenance, proper handling, and installation practices can prevent damage, extend lifespan, and reduce downtime and costly repairs of cable components. Recognizing the importance of cables and investing in their sustained health brings efficiency, reliability, and uninterrupted communication across various domains.

Aparna Sushumna | Author

Aparna Sushumna

About the Author

Aparna Sushumna, a mother to a hyperactive toddler who is all over the house. I aspire to be a decent content developer. A Bachelorette of technology says my qualification but I anticipated being a singer. Thanks to the recession, I dwelled into various jobs, from coding to being a tech support executive to a help desk professional, only to conclude that there is something else I wish to do. Here I am to accomplish my profound passion for content writing. Music, nature, jewelry, beauty, mythology, life quotes, celebs, and their life, being my areas of interest.